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This post provides details about when the Tower Bridge lifts and how to make sure you can catch a glimpse at the rare sighting, including tips on the best places to see the event.

Tower Bridge Opening Times

There is no set schedule for the Tower Bridge to open, so it’s not an activity or event that can be easily planned out in a short amount of time.

That said, there are certain factors that can increase your likelihood of being able to catch this event.

The official website of the Tower Bridge provides lift times and other details, including information about what types of vessels will be passing the bridge.

Tower Bridge Opening

The Time of Year is Important

During the winter, days and even weeks can pass between one bridge opening and the next.

However, if you visit during the summer, it might lift half a dozen times or more in just one day, so you might even catch a bridge opening at sunset!

Where to See the Tower Bridge Opening

Luckily, there are plenty of great places to see the bridge opening.

Here are a few of our recommendations:

London Walking Tours

Northern Bank | Western Side

On the northern bank of the Thames, you’ll find there’s a great vantage point on the western side of Tower Bridge.

tower bridge london view

This location is popular due to its proximity to both the bridge and the Tower of London.

Northern Bank | Eastern Side

If you’re looking for a quieter and less crowded view, head to the eastern side of Tower Bridge in front of the Tower Hotel.

This spot isn’t as close to the Tower of London, so it’s not as popular for taking pictures, but it’s still a great angle to view the Tower Bridge opening.

The Timepiece Sundial

A great spot is the Timepiece Sundial, which is located at the entrance to St. Katherine's Docks.

Southern Bank | City Hall

Located on the opposite side of the Thames from the Tower of London, City Hall is also a great place where you can stop and enjoy excellent views of the Tower Bridge opening.

Tower Bridge Opening

Southern Bank | View From the Shard

Although it might not be the best view, it’s worth noting that on any clear day, you’ll probably be able to see the Tower Bridge lifting from the Shard.

If you’re interested in a view from above, this is an excellent idea you might want to consider.

Southern Bank | Butler’s Wharf

This location is on the eastern side of Tower Bridge.

It’s home to several restaurants and cafes that have outdoor seating where you can sit and enjoy a nice view of the landmark while sipping on a cup of tea or coffee.

Inside the Tower Bridge Experience

One of the most interesting things about the Tower Bridge Experience is the glass-bottom floor which goes across the entire span of the bridge.

Glass Floor Tower Bridge Experience

If you visit during a time when the bridge is lifting, you might have a chance of seeing the bridge lift from above!

What to Expect

Tower Bridge openings typically happen almost precisely when they are scheduled, so it will be important to be on time and prepared for the event. 

You can expect the scheduled vessel to arrive and then wait for their booked time slot, so if you see a boat approaching the bridge, you might want to hurry up!

The Tower Bridge opening during magic hour. Image source: Pixabay user Richard Ley.
The Tower Bridge opens during magic hour. Image source: Pixabay user Richard Ley.

How Long Does it Take to Open?

The whole process of the bridge lifting takes about 3-5 minutes, so it’ll be over in no time.

That’s why it’s important to consider arriving at least a short while before the event is scheduled.

What if You Miss It?

If you miss the bridge opening in summer, chances are there will be another one happening in a few hours.

So, you can usually just grab a bite to eat or enjoy some sightseeing while you’re waiting for the next opportunity.

However, if you arrive too late during the winter, you might just have to head back home and wait for a few days (or even a week!) until the next Tower Bridge opening is scheduled.

Plan Your Visit

We recommend planning it out but don’t spend too much time agonizing over how and when to see the Tower Bridge opening. 

Instead, check to see when the next bridge opening is scheduled for and arrive about 15 minutes ahead of time to make sure you’ve got a good vantage point.

Even if you’re not planning to come to see the Tower Bridge opening, you might still want to keep an eye open for any boats if you’re in the area, because chances are that you might be able to catch the event just in passing.

The Tower Bridge as night falls. Image source: Pixabay user E. Dichtl.
The Tower Bridge as night falls. Image source: Pixabay user E. Dichtl.

Consider a Nighttime Visit

Here’s a tip: The Tower Bridge is usually very well-lit after dark, and it’s an entirely different experience to see this landmark at night versus during the day.

Some Tower Bridge openings take place well after dark – some even past midnight!

If you’re interested in seeing a bridge opening and you’ve never seen it after dark, consider heading out for one of the later scheduled lifts to see what it looks like at night.

For more tips and suggestions, make sure to read our post covering how to plan a visit to Tower Bridge.

London Travel Tips and Hacks

About The Author


An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.
Updated: May 25th, 2023
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